Magic of art created by computers


Magic of art created by computers

Alternative creative works

“Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together” said John Ruskin. Following this point of view, there is no art without the presence of a human being, but today this is not always true, because algorithms prepared by humans, can create wonderful artistic works. This scientific goal has changed the concept of creativity tied exclusively to the human being, because now machines contribute to do it as well.

However, these new algorithms need to be trained, and training requires data to be sent to the machines. In fact, there is a neural network in the machines, that processes information similarly to the brain’s neurons, andto the thought processes of humans[1]. But although programmers set the right parameters; the finished product is that of an artistic creation generated by the computer program itself. During the training, software assesses its performance after each attempt, and in this way the feedback obtained goes through the millions of network connections improving future computations.

Some artistic works made by computers have reached surprising results that no one could have ever imagined before.In 2016, “The Next Rembrandt”, a new artwork, wasgenerated by a computer that had analyzed thousands of works by the 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.

One year later, an AI called Aiva, composed tracks of classical music, that is an art which evokes emotions usually considered as a human quality. Its musical pieces have been used as soundtracks by film directors, advertising agencies, and even game studios [2]. Recently, Artificial Intelligence also made a movie called “Zone out” in 48 hours, assembling thousands of hours of old films and green-screen footage of professional actors[3]. Another machine has written a novel, “1 The Road”, that represents the first novel written by AI[4]. These are just few examples, but there are many other projects in which computers write poems, edit photographs and even compose a musical.

With these scenario’s, it is clear that computers can create faster, cheaper and almost as well as a human equivalent, and this is attractive for creative industries that want to invest in literary and artistic works.

Artificial Intelligence and Copyright

AI used in this way raises new questions related to copyright, in particular it is necessary to understand whether works created by it arereferred to the machine or to the human that has given the input to the machine itself. This is a very good question in copyright law[5].

Usually, ownership of copyright in computer-generated works was not controversial because the computer was considered just as a tool that supported the creative process of the programmer, very much like a pen (according to a deterministic approach). The belief of this thesis was that the computer could not make works without humans[6]and, for this, no one doubted that copyright protection should be assigned to original works realized by a human author[7].

But, with the rapid development of machine learning software, Artificial Intelligence can produce now autonomous systems that are capable of learning without being specifically programmed by a human. In fact, as I said before, in art, music and literary works, machine learning algorithms learn from inputs provided for by programmers to generate a new work, making independent decisions throughout the process that determines what the new work will look like. It is evident that the computer is no longer a simple tool, but can make many decisions as the humans, that contribute to the creative process without human intervention, with results thatcannot be predicted.For works created by AI, where human interaction is minimal or non-existent, there are two points of view on the rules to be applied. One view believes that we should deny copyright protection to these works, since the main part of the creative process has been provided by AI, rather than by the author. Another theory, however, attributes authorship of such works to the creator of the program reducing the role of AI in the creative act.

A universal approach on this aspect of copyright does not exist and so, this must be analyzed in detail. The United States and Europe do not recognize copyright protection to these works[8]. In the United States the Copyright Office can register an original work of authorship, provided that the work was created by a human being. This approach is confirmed by case law[9], which established that copyright law only protects “the fruits of intellectual labor” that “are founded in the creative powers of the mind”. Similarly, in Europe, the Court of Justice has declared that copyright only applies to original works, and that originality must reflect the “author’s own intellectual creation”[10]. An original work must reflect the author’s personality, which means that a human author is required for a copyright work.

There are some countries, such as Hong Kong, India, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK, that use another approach instead, attributing authorship of the work to the programmer[11]. Hence, the legal framework examined suggests that Artificial Intelligence is not yet considered as a new form of legal person and cannot be compared to a human will. This depends on the fact that, although AI seems to be equivalent to the human mind, in reality, it is still far from being really “intelligent”[12]. Much depends also on the definition of “intelligent”, that includes new ways of knowledge not already known. AI is “intelligent” because it can detect new relationships in big data and learn from previous mistakes, improving in this way the patterns of its program. However, it cannot determine the preferences or goals, that still depends on the human being, the only one who can define the framework within which the work will be created. AI can just improve ways to achieve a goal, but cannot change it[13]. In conclusion, arguments that attribute the work created by a machine to the human making use of it, are still preferable, because a new artistic work, realized by an algorithm, depends exclusively on data introduced and so, indirectly, on the artist that has influenced the AI.

Human creativity, artificial creativity and their relationship

Advancements in AI demonstrate that computers can be coached on some parameters of creativity[14], and the works realized until now are a proof of that, although experts point out that this creativity has different characteristics from the one of humans. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves if in creativity, one of the most remarkable human characteristics, AI could ever surpass us[15].

A sociology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Anton Oleinik, in an article published in the journal “Big Data and Society”, considers that in the future AI will likely only replace repetitive tasks that humans are not particularly skilled, while creativity will always be a human prerogative [16]. In his opinion, machines are not apt at being creative for many reasons. Firstly, while machines are good at identifying precise patterns in the input introduced, they fail to connect one pattern to another unrelated pattern, that instead is an essential characteristic of creativity. Then, Professor Oleinik thinks that neural networks of an algorithm cannot distinguish which patterns are meaningful and valuable and which are not, also this is an important element of creativity.Lastly, neural networks do not understand social norms, lacking social intelligence, which is connected to creativity since innovations are often related to social connections and relationships.For all these reasons, Oleinik pointed out that, for the time being, creativity will remain the domain of humans.

Creativity is considered human because of peculiarities of the creative process, that is a process of search and combination, since one piece of knowledge is taken and connected with another piece of knowledge, in order to obtain something that is new and useful. This can also be done by machines that excel at storing, processing, and making connections within data, but there is a difference, that we can notice, between humans and machines in the innovation process, that is a problem-solving process, through the combination of problems to arrive to solutions.

Humans can start from a problem and solve it, or can start from a solution and find from it new problems; instead, machines can just give solutions to the problems, but cannot find problems, because problems are often outside the boundaries of data on which activities of machines are based. Moreover, innovation is often related to needs we did not even know we had: as such needs are hard to formulate and make explicit, they cannot be found in the data that machines have.

Another observation: humans and machines have different raw material that they use as input for innovation. While humans create ideas from life experiences, machines are restricted to the data humans feed them. It is important to consider that creativity is not just novelty, but is also usefulness, and even if creations made by machines are new, they are not necessarily also useful, since for machines it is hard to judge usefulness. Instead, humans can empathize with others understanding their needs better.So, creations generated by AI may be less preferred by consumers simply because they have been created by a machine, considered less authentic and more threatening.

Interaction between humans and computers in 2050

Even if AI artists are considered as a threat to human artists, they actually represent an opportunity for us to push our creative boundaries and to expand our creativity. The most surprising artistic creations are based on collaboration between humans and machines, considering that machines are not our enemies, but rather an extension of our minds[17].

Machines cannot replace humans in the creative domain, but they can help to complement human creativity. Some experts say that there is a 50% chance that machines reach human intelligence within the next 50 years, and researchers, instead, have figured out that there will be an automation of 800 million jobs by 2030. Those who understand that, in the future, we have to live, work, and collaborate with AI, will succeed, while those who deny human and machine collaboration, will inevitably fail[18].Humans and machines can complement each other, increasing productivity and achieving their priorities faster and more efficiently: this is also confirmed by 61% of business leaders. They enhance each other’s strengths; the leadership, teamwork, creativity, and social skills of the human, and the speed, scalability, and quantitative capabilities of the machine.Making a joke for example, can be tricky for machines, and at the same time, what is natural for machines, like analyzing gigabytes of data, is impossible for humans. Business requires both kinds of capabilities[19].So, the human future will be melted with AI, but ours will remain a visibly human world with goals, projects, and concerns that reflect our human history and our human needs and priorities[20].

There are some guidelines that help companies to achieve this collaborative intelligence. Humans must train machines to perform certain tasks, explain the outcomes of those tasks (especially when the results are controversial), and sustain the responsible use of machines (for example, preventing robots from harming humans). Smart machines, instead, mustamplify our cognitive strengths,interactwith customers and employees to free us for higher-level tasks and embody human skills to extend our physical capabilities.

We can analyze advantages and disadvantages to use Artificial Intelligence in our society. Advantages are the following: AI can do stressful and complex works that humans may struggle with, complete tasks faster than a human can most likely perform, can discover unexplored things, and can prevent errors.At the same time, Artificial Intelligencelacks “human touch”, can replace human jobs, can malfunction and do the opposite of what is programmed to do, and can be misused, leading to mass scale destruction[21].

Although AI has some negative aspects, it represents the future and if we do not accept its presence in our lives, all of us will lose our jobs and money. There is safety in numbers: Albert Einstein understood this necessary union, when he said: “the computer is incredibly fast, accurate and stupid. Man is incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation”. More precisely, in the years ahead, creative industries will have to implement artificial intelligence in their artistic and literary works, otherwise they will fail becoming obsolete. In fact, we live in a world where everything is becoming faster thanks to the technology, and this is the reason why, in a few years, we will not be satisfied anymore to wait for example, for our favorite writer to publish his new book, or the new TV series to release. We have to follow the progress and, since many jobs will disappear, we have to figure out how to take advantage of our skills, in order to still be important for our society.

All these considerations must not be an obstacle to our creativity, but a stimulus for us because on one hand, humans will still continue to create, probably competing with other artists that are computers; on the other hand, we can contribute to the artistic works made by an AI. There is no doubt that human contribution will still be very important in works generated by Artificial Intelligence, in a collaboration that could be profitable. A group of human experts will find new job opportunities in this scenario, focusing on the goal of refining artificial works. Art is imperfect without emotions, and emotions are incredibly human[22]. So, in the future, films, songs, books will be created by a team composed of computers and humans, where computer generated-works will be made more human by us thanks to our sensitivity. Every great artist, at least once in his life, has lost inspiration because of lack of ideas, connected to peculiar moments of his life. In these phases, these algorithms could become a safety net, helping us if, for instance, we must respect a deadline to deliver a project or having lost the inspiration. For all these reasons, it can be interesting quoting the Clarke’s Third Law, according to which “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”: if for you, art made by computers is not magic, I do not really know what it could be.


[1]M. Hutson, New algorithm can create movies from just a few snippets of text,, 2018.

[2]B. Kaleagasi, A New AI can write music as well as a human composer,, 2017.

[3]L. Goode, AI made a Movie-and the results are horrifyingly encouraging,, 2018.

[4]T. Hornigold, The First Novel written by AI is here- and it’s as weird as you’d expect it to be,, 2018.

[5]A. Guadamuz, Artificial Intelligence and copyright,, 2017.

[6]T. Yamamoto, AI created works and Copyright,, 2018.

[7]Most jurisdictions, like Spain and Germany, state that only works created by a human can be protected by copyright.

[8]J. Bailey, Copyright and Artificial Intelligence,, 2019.

[9][9]See Feist Publications v Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc.

[10]See Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagbaldes Forening.

[11]UK copyright law, section 9(3) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), that states:“In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken”.

[12]G. Spindler, Copyright Law and Artificial Intelligence,, 2019.

[13]The situation may change in the future if AI will turn around the goals and preferences set by its owner: in such a case, its activities cannot longer be attributed to the “author”.

[14]For further information, visit the following link:

[15]T. Schweisfurth and R. C. Goduscheit, Can AI ever rival human creativity? Here’s what the science says,, 2020.

[16]K. Schwab, 3 reasons why AI will never match human creativity,, 2019.

[17]R. Bidshahri, The Rise of AI Art- and what it means for human creativity,, 2019.

[18]S. Fourtanè, Human + Machine Collaboration: work in the age of Artificial Intelligence,, 2019.

[19]H. J. Wilson and P. R. Daugherty, Collaborative Intelligence: Humans and AI are joining forces,, 2018.

[20]A. Clark, Human AI collaboration: how the rise of AI can also be the rise of us,, 2019.

[21]P. P. Mazumder, Artificial Intelligence in libraries,, 2020.

[22]It is very interesting what Amit Ray said: “Emotions are essential part of human intelligence. Without emotional intelligence, Artificial Intelligence is incomplete”.

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